Today, Tracey, Adriyel, Caitlin, and I visited the Notting Hill Carnival. We did not know quite what to expect, as the main thing we were told is, “It's pretty crazy. Also, don't take anything of value, including your cell phones.” Though perplexed and slightly worried by the advice, we decided to see what this famous event was all about. It was incredibly loud, crazy, and amazing.
I took along my small, cheap Flip camera to capture some of the event, but left my nicer camera and phone at home, so a few short videos were all that I was able to capture. However, I was glad to not have anything of significant value with me, as the crowds were immense, rowdy, and packed tightly into the streets.
We exited the station to a wall of solid noise. Horns and whistles pierced the air, while the bass from the numerous speakers scattered around the streets shook the ground beneath us. Carnival-goers were running back and forth, screaming and dancing, with brightly colored clothes that seemed to swirl all around us.
As we set out along the road, we saw huge crowds around the various DJs that were set up every few corners, blasting reggae, hip hop, and rap. The bass and speakers were incredibly loud, literally shaking our rib cages as we walked by. The sights and smells of the African and Carribean food permeated the air, with jerk-roasted chicken, grilled corn, rice and beans, and so much more wafting around us. (Along with, of course, the smells of old alcohol, smoke, and day-old trash that one would expect at such as massive event.)
We wandered around the Carnival, looking at all the sights and being bombarded by the sounds. We saw coconuts being chopped and served, amazing dancers, and some of the best people-watching one could ever imagine. We danced along to the beat, channeled our way through the crushing crowds, and even had some great food. I had some jerk chicken and rice from fresh off of a grill and then a little cup of cheap vegetarian Thai fried rice. (check out the jerk chicken in the video below! The fried rice was quite good, but the jerk chicken stole the show. It was incredibly juicy and completely infused with a smokey flavor. In the jubilant partying atmosphere, it even became something more; with the first bite of that chicken, I felt like I was truly there at the festival.
We finally made it home from the festival after over an hour of negotiating crowded streets to the tube stations and various tube closures and delays. It felt so quiet in the stations after the raucous carnival, but we all felt like Carnival was an unmissable experience. The crushing mass of people (literally thousands of people on the narrow streets) and the craziness of such a large party are something I will never forget. It was amazing, slightly terrifying, and I cannot wait to see it again someday.
The Man Who Chops Coconuts
Good Food Makes Me Happy